Zontar The Thing From Venus


“From another planet … sent to enslave mankind!”
There are good alien invasion films, there are bad alien invasion films, and then there is Zontar the Thing from Venus, a mid-‘60s sci-fi atrocity so mind-blowingly, soul-searingly awful that prolonged exposure to its notorious ineptitude may actually cause genetic chromosomal damage. So if you’re planning on having children at any point after seeing this film … DON’T! Sprung from the twisted mind of the legendarily terrible filmmaker Larry Buchanan (a man whose mere name can cause tremors of fear in the hearts of movie snobs everywhere, thanks to such mid-century classics as Curse of the Swamp People, Mars Needs Women and Mistress of the Apes), Zontar is a $1.98 epic based on (or “ripped off from”) the 1956 Corman flick It Conquered the World. Utilizing the same basic story, Buchanan managed to put his own stamp on the story by injecting it with his unique brand of borderline surreal badness, the kind that would have made Luis Buñuel proud … if Buñuel had hung out at American drive-in’s in the mid-1960s.
An arrogant scientist named Dr. Ritchie has been in contact with an alien from Venus named Zontar, using what looks like an oversized hi-fi stereo system. Dr. Ritchie’s uptight colleague Dr. Taylor (played by uptight ’50s sci-fi staple John Agar, star of The Mole People), thinks Ritchie is nuts and mocks him relentlessly, especially when Ritchie becomes convinced that Zontar wants to “help save Earth from itself,” and so he therefore must help Zontar find his way to our planet, via an experimental NASA satellite. However, once Zontar hits Earth, everyone basically stops laughing, since Zontar is really out to get us all, and he proceeds to cause worldwide power outages and enslave the minds of stupid humans, using so-called “injectapods” that are spread with the help of Zontar’s army of hilariously fake-looking alien bats (which are clearly made from papier-mache and held aloft by highly-visible strings attached to fishing poles). Yes, the googley-eyed Zontar just wants to rule the world, but not if uptight Dr. Taylor has anything to say about it! God-awful effects, ridiculously mismatched stock footage, awkward scenes of “mass panic” and female scientists with towering beehive hairdos all work together to make Zontar one of worst (and funniest) sci-fi extravaganzas of all-time. (Dir. by Larry Buchanan, 1966, 80 min., Not Rated) Digital Presentation